The Improv Program
This class teaches the basics of the iO style of improvisation as created by Del Close and Charna Halpern.
Here you will build on the teachings of Level 1 while allowing you to discover your strengths; it focuses on character creation, “the group mind” and object/environment work.
This class concentrates on the two-person scene, the anchor of long-form improvisation.
This is where you use all the skills you have acquired thus far in order to create the Harold, the signature long-form structure at iO.
This class looks at other advanced types of long-form improvisation such as the Deconstruction, the Mosaic, the Bat, Close Quarters, the Living Room and more.
The advanced Harold level, here you will probe even deeper into the form, focusing intensely on the acting, editing, and group commitment that it takes to generate a 30-minute piece. There is 1 performance at the end of this level.
This final level allows students to use their newly acquired improvisational skills to create an original long-form show. Performance Class shows run in the Del Close Theater for six or seven weeks after the class has ended.
iO's Writing Program
Talk Show Portfolio
The GOAL of this class is a four-page, state-of-the-art talk show portfolio suitable for
submission to both literary agents and TV producers alike--and to that end the student has
complete access to all that The Comedy Lab and The iO Chicago has to offer, including the
critique of his or her material in a one-on-one session with the instructor. Here's how it shakes
out week-to-week: the student learns to write jokes based on the news (1st week); to expand
those jokes into character and commentary monologues (2nd week); to pitch concepts for desk
pieces (3rd week), remote ideas (5th week) and various segment ideas (6th week); to create two
parody sketches (4th week); to critique, assess and rewrite a rough version into a final draft and
develop a business plan (7th week) toward the goal of getting an agent, getting an assignment,
and at last being happy! Should the student chose to continue studying with The Comedy Lab,
various elements will be considered for the live stage show that’s part of the next class, the SNL
Sketch Packet class.
SNL Sketch Packets
The GOAL of this class is an SNL sketch packet, comprised of at least eight separate sketches,
suitable for submission to literary agents, TV producers as well as SNL itself--and to that end the
student has complete access to all that The Comedy Lab and The iO Chicago has to offer,
including the performance of his or her material by The Comedy Lab Players (a rotating cast of
15 talented sketch actors), on the Monday after class finishes. Here's how it shakes out week-to-
week: the students learns to write jokes based on the news, as well as a cold opening sketch (1st
week); those jokes are then expanded into two separate host-type Monologues, as if the student
were hosting and if a hero of the student were hosting (2nd week); to create a streamlined
version of Weekend Update (3rd week); to create two Commercial Parody sketches and one
Digital Short (4th week); to write for the live performance of a sketch that parodies an existing
TV show, and a current film (5th week); to write a sketch that incorporates an existing character
within the current ensemble (6th week); to write a cast scene comprised on six or more
characters and to prepare for The Monday Night Live, and to develop a business plan (7th week)
toward the goal of getting an agent, etc... that starts with the opportunity for the student to see
his or her sketches performed before a live audience by The Comedy Lab Players.
Sitcom Spec Script
The goal of this class is a sitcom spec script of a currently running show, whether single-camera,
four-camera, single-camera (cable) or animated--suitable for submission to literary agents,
network executives and/or TV executive producers; and to that end the student has complete
access to all that The Comedy Lab and The iO Chicago has to offer, including the critique of his
or her material in a one-on-one session with the instructor. Here's how it shakes out week-to-
week: the student chooses a show and creates six pitches (1st week); a single pitch is chosen and
then partially outlined (2nd week); a detailed, scene-by-scene outline is completed (3rd week);
special focus on the cold opening, the act break and the tag (4th week); completion of first half
of the student’s first draft (5th week); completion of second half of the student’s first draft (6th
week); and finally the brutal rewrites, not to mention developing a business plan (7th week); and
finally, the student’s final draft after meeting one-on-one with the instructor, taking into account
both aspects of the student’s campaign: art and commerce.
TV Pilot Presentation
The goal of this class is a collection of deftly written documents: treatment(s), character
descriptions, episode scenarios, promo script, pilot script--the overall goal being a thoroughly
thought through concept from beginning-to-end that can be read and defended in a pitch meeting,
and to that end the student has complete access to all that The Comedy Lab and The iO Chicago
has to offer, including a live staged reading of the student's completed script. Here's how it
shakes out week-to-week: a concisely written treatment composed of three separate descriptions
of the students concept in the form of a log line, a paragraph and a page (1st week); a studied list
of the proposed series' characters (2nd week); an equally studied list of at least six episode
scenarios (3rd week); a two two-minute script designed to promote the concept of the show, as
well as the outline for the pilot script (4th week); a page-by-page outline, based upon the
structure of a script from a similar show (5th week); a classic, detailed sitcom outline of the
student’s pilot script (6th week); first half of the student’s first draft, not to mention developing a
business plan (7th week); second half of the student’s first draft, not to mention the opportunity
for the student to stage a live stage reading of the student’s pilot script and solicit audience
This workshop is good for anyone from the beginner who doesn't feel comfortable singing to the expert who loves to sing. If your goal is to improve, you will. Exercises cover the range from group sonic explorations to solo songs, from rhyming choruses and choreography to truth in comedy with music. The focus is on applying the basic long form tools of agreement and group mind to the realm of music. This is a very organic connection. Finding the games of things, making patterns, keeping a rhythm, and supporting your teammate's moves are essential to good improv and become even more relevant when the stakes are heightened to the point that music becomes necessary. Finding the truth in a moment brings even more rewards. The class will perform a final show in the Del Close theater at the end of the eight weeks.
Creating & Refining Solo Material
Writing and performing solo comedy scenes is a craft. Unlike stand-up comedy, it's easy to do because theater audiences are much more forgiving. Like stand-up comedy, it's extremely hard to do well. If you lack killer written material for yourself, this class will get you going, plus it's also a great start for a solo show. The class focuses on creating compelling characters, crafting structurally sound, multi-layered scenes, being a better actor, and performing with confidence and discipline
This class offers students more scenework with direct feedback and notes. This class will focus on scene creativity and we will run both short scene exercises and also longer length two person scenic explorations. Build better scene foundations and play into creating with your partner beyond the initiation. Strengthen your work and increase your personal satisfaction with the scenes you are in.
This class is for post iO graduate or students who have completed through level 3.
This elective is comprised of 8 classes, there will be no class the week of Thanksgiving.
Teen Improv Level 1
This class teaches the basics of the iO improvisation as created by Del Close and Charna Halpern and adapted for young men and women 14-17. This level introduces all of the skills used to create the Harold for development in Levels 2 through 4.